Judy Ross' Urban Family Home

Judy Ross' Urban Family Home

Jill Slater
Mar 15, 2013

Name: Judy, Gabriel, and Henri
Location: Union Square, Manhattan, New York
Size: 600 square foot, 2-bedroom rental
Years Lived In: 13 years

As a native New Yorker, I think it's ok for me to say that only another native New Yorker could pull off what Judy Ross has with such aplomb. Judy, pillow, fabric, and rug designer extraordinaire, grew up in Queens and thrives with her two boys, aged 10 and 16, in a beautifully arranged, crisply curated, and well maintained 600 square foot, 2 bedroom apartment in the heart of Manhattan.

White walls are usually the default in a rental, but Judy embraces them as just the right canvas for her hand-embroidered pillows and colorful rugs. Her art is incredible, and while there's a lot of it, it does not not overwhelm the space.

Having great views and direct visual access to the building's common garden/outdoor space helps expand the apartment and provide a lot of natural light. Choosing a lighting fixture the length of the living room instead of multiple lamps also helps to create a sense of openness, as well as free up valuable floor space.

Each piece of furniture seems to work perfectly for its location. While there is no hiding the limited space available to Judy and her two sons, she has done everything in her power to make this small rental into a place everyone would want to be.

Apartment Therapy Survey:

Style: I would say I enjoy midcentury modern.

Inspiration: I think it comes from growing up in a household in the 60's, full of beautifully designed objects and furniture by the greats -- Knoll, Raymond Loewy, Thonet, and Charles and Ray Eames. My parents had great taste in their clothes and their home, and this attribute was passed on to me.

Favorite Element: I have a great view of the city skyline from all of my windows. At sunset, I see beautiful silhouettes of the neighboring building's water towers against the clouds and the changing colors of the sky.

Biggest Challenge: Making a small space feel big for my two sons and I to live in. (And where to put all the rugby and soccer balls!)

What Friends Say: They love the personality of my home and all the textiles throughout. My apartment is very rich in the history of my life.

Biggest Embarrassment:: My 11th floor living room window has a great view of the New York skyline and the building's rooftop terrace on the 10th floor -- which has a wonderful large expanse of grass, flowers, trees, deck chairs and barbeque grills. Sometimes, I walk around my apartment in my lingerie and fail to notice that there are people on the terrace who can see in!

Proudest DIY: I had a friend, Ken Forman, design my bedroom, and we created a series of panels that slide across a track and diffuse the light coming in. I designed one of the panels with a drawing which was hand embroidered by my artisans in India on a sheer silk. The design, "Swim," has a lot of movement in its motif. I get lost in admiring it when the light shines through.

Biggest Indulgence: The Resource Furniture Lollisoft bed. It was the perfect way to get more space in the boys' room and give them some privacy when they sleep. The bunk beds close up like a Murphy bed into a box that measures only 12 inches from the wall and 7.5 feet long. When the bottom bed is pulled up, there is a table -- 7' x 36" -- which, when opened, serves as a great 'homework desk.' There is also a nice hidden shelf above the top bed to put books, alarm clocks and family pictures! And best of all... the top of the unit acts as a great shelf to display all the rugby, basketball and soccer balls!

Best Advice: If you do not have any overhead lighting in your home, I suggest getting Paul Rudolph's Quadron chandelier. It is a thin white lacquer square tube that contains halogen lights and hangs by a thin metal cable. It is a beautiful way to light your home. Putting it on a dimmer allows for great mood lighting when needed! Overhead lighting is very harsh, and this lighting unit reflects up to the ceiling to give off light. It can come from one electrical feed far to one end of the room and provide lighting. This is far cleaner and more elegant than having to have lamps all over the house. I have my unit hung across the length of the living room, extending from the entrance hall. It does the work of many lamps and lights the whole room from one switch.

Dream Source/Resources: I wish B&B made a sofa for a small space!



    • Knoll credenza
    • Knoll sofa
    • Property dining table
    • Thonet wood dining room chairs
    • Artwork by Adam Fuss, Richard Smith, Kiki Smith, Nan Golden,
    • Green silk screen print by Judy Ross
    • Built in bookshelves/cd shelves designed by Judy Ross
    • Hand-knotted Celine Rug in cream/purple/pewter silk by Judy Ross
    • Hand embroidered wool pillows by Judy Ross


    • Built-in Ikea white lacquer kitchen cabinets with a corian top and added aluminum hardware.
    • Aluminum track and Ikea hardware for the hanging sheer panels.
    • One panel is hand embroidered in the design "Swim," on a silk voile from Bruno Triplet fabrics. The rest of sheer panels are a white sheer polyester.
    • Overhead LED lighting strips behind the panels and fluorescent tube lights for underneath lighting
    • Trans Luxe Lighting hanging lamp shade
    • India Mahdavi yellow ceramic night table
    • Knoll credenza
    • Judy Ross hand embroidered Pinwheel Artek stool (collaboration with Artek and the Alvar Aalto stool 60)
    • Artwork sketches by Judy Ross
    • Baby photographs of Henri and Gabriel Ross by Adam Fuss

For more of Judy, check out her 1-minute tips: Display Your Personal Art, Run Your Apartment Like a Ship, and An Ode to White Walls.

Thanks, Judy!

(Images: Jill Slater)

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